BY JOSEPH TROCHEZ
Five actors seated in a star-packed Dolby Theatre March 2 nervously waited for one of their names to be called out. Maybe they were thinking:
“Will it be the cowboy with AIDS, the con man with a comb over, the rambunctious Wall Street savant, the slave who harrowingly regained his freedom or the ornery old coot?”
One could hear a mouse whisper as Jennifer Lawrence paused before announcing the winner for best actor at the 86th Academy Awards.
It was Matthew McConaughey, the actor who portrayed the cowboy with AIDS, who took home the coveted prize for his exceptional work in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The audience erupted as the actor headed to the stage. He had fire in his eyes and a purposeful gait. Along the way he hugged his rival, Leonardo DiCaprio, and his co-star Jared Leto, who took home the Oscar for best supporting actor in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
This was McConaughey’s first Oscar nomination. According to Mike LaHaye, a communication major, McConaughey gave the best speech of the night.
LaHaye said he was eager for the Oscars, so he studied up for the annual event using Entertainment Weekly. The movie enthusiast knew the favorites and the underdogs.
LaHaye said he felt movie aficionados were secretly wishing the long snubbed DiCaprio would take home the gold with his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but LaHaye said he thought McConaughey rightly deserved the award.
“McConaughey was just brilliant, brilliant in ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’” LaHaye said. “I never thought he was a great actor till the last couple of years.”
LaHaye said McConaughey had been stuck in a downward spiral of romantic comedies, which led McConaughey to take a break from acting in 2009. Since his return in 2011, he has stayed away from “rom coms” and picked independent projects, including: “Killer Joe,” “Mud” and “Magic Mike.”
“This is definitely his year,” LaHaye said. “He’s unstoppable right now.”
Liberal arts major Jon Roemo said he was surprised by the actor’s recent success.
“I wouldn’t [have] even given Matthew McConaughey a thought,” Roemo said. “He wouldn’t have been on my radar.”
Roemo said he now considers McConaughey one of his favorites due to his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” and his run on the new HBO crime drama series, “True Detective.” He described McConaughey’s transformation in “Dallas Buyers Club” as a complete 180. He said not only was it a physical transformation, but also a mental one.
“He starts off as a stereotypical redneck sexist-type guy, and he comes around,” Roemo said. “He was incredibly dedicated in that role to drop that much weight.”
McConaughey’s performance in “True Detective” as Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle is Roemo’s favorite of the versatile actor.
“It’s an interesting character,” Roemo said. “He gives it a unique sort of nihilistic approach.”
With his recent body of work, some of his fans have come up with a clever and catchy phrase for the unexpected but pleasant career resurrection for McConaughey.
“This is the Mcconaissance,” said Tiffany Leemon, a biology major at CCM. “The McConaissance is upon us, so prepare.”